For the Indian steel sector, it would seem cold rolled grain oriented (CRGO) electrical steel, a crucial component for electrical transformers, is the flavor of the season.
India is a major importer of CRGO electrical steel and even the slightly lower grade, cold rolled non-grain oriented steel (CRNGO). While China has grown in leaps and bounds in this particular sector, despite concerted efforts by the government of India to encourage steel producers to begin making it, there had not been much movement on the ground so far prior to the start of this year.
A few days ago, though, there was some activity on this front when a public-private partnership between Tata Steel and the government-run National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML) was announced for the setting up of India’s first indigenous CRGO steel plant.
India imports approximately US $2 billion of this type of electrical steel annually. A report in The Financial Express said the pilot plant would meet a portion of the demand from the power sector.
When it comes online, this plant and India will join the exclusive list of only five other global steelmakers that have the technology to produce CRGO steel. As of now, there are 13 plants around the world making CRGO steel.
Despite India having some of the world’s largest and rather well-known steel companies, it would seem strange why none had ever taken up the manufacture of this steel type. There is only one small plant in the state of Maharashtra that makes about 12,000 metric tons of this steel per year.
One would think that with infrastructure and mass housing activities picking up in India, companies would be queuing up for permissions to produce this type of electrical steel.
The ‘Working Group on Steel Industry for 12th Five-Year Plan’ in its report had recommended including the development of CRGO steel as a high-value project of national importance.
Furthermore, India’s installed power generation capacity in 2012 was about 200 GW, and by 2017, industry watchers expect another 85,000 MW capacity to be added.